I admit to being curious about most things. It doesn’t take much to get my mind wondering: “How does it do that?” “Why did they program it that way?” “I wonder what would happen if I . . . ”
This curiosity has stood me in good stead most of the time and has gotten me into significant trouble a couple of other times. However, the biggest problem I have is in my not accepting the lack of curiosity or the willingness to investigate and learn in others around me. Usually, under the guise of not having time, many folks I’ve worked with or around, refuse to explore new ways of doing things. They don’t want to figure out if there’s a better way to put that formula in the spreadsheet, or animate that PowerPoint slide or make that business process more effective. It’s too much trouble and change, even if it’s learning new things, is a bit scary. I lose patience quickly when I see that people aren’t curious or willing to explore new ways of doing things.
For many of us, imagination, along with curiosity, is “beaten out of us” in school. We aren’t allowed to day-dream or just experiment for the sake of experimenting. I’m not sure what keeps us from imagining new worlds, processes, possibilities or ways of doing things. Do we just get intellectually lazy?
How do you as a business leader shape the corporate culture in your company? Do you encourage curiosity and imagination? Do your people constantly ask those “annoying” questions and want to know why we “do things that way?” Do you reward reasonable risk taking? Do you encourage brainstorming sessions and creative problem solving?
Now, more than ever, we need to have companies that are willing to challenge the status quo. We need to be constantly asking “why,” and “is there a better way,” and do the customers/clients REALLY still want us to do that? I imagine that companies who allow imagination to flow, foster curiosity and reward employees for different, simple, elegant solutions will be the ones who thrive in this down market. What are you doing to shape a culture of imagination and curiosity at your company?